| Detroit Free Press
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After one of the strangest weeks of his career, Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is looking forward to having some normal back in his life — like practicing with his teammates and seeing his wife and four daughters in-person for the first time in more than a week.
“It’ll be nice to sleep in my own bed, I know that,” Stafford said Wednesday. “So I’m excited for it, excited obviously to just get back to a normal routine, be around the family a little bit more, which’ll be awesome.”
Stafford spent all of last week away from his teammates and family while immersed in the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols.
A close contact of a known positive, he was in isolation for five days, holed up in a hotel room where he took part in meetings and walk-throughs via Zoom and had contact with his family by FaceTime while he was on the league’s reserve/COVID-19 list.
Stafford traveled to Minnesota for the Lions’ 34-20 loss to the Vikings by private plane, apart from the rest of the team, and returned to isolation in a separate area of the team hotel until he was cleared to play after taking a pair of COVID tests early Sunday morning.
After the game, he had to remain apart from his family for three more nights for reasons unbeknownst to him. He said he was scheduled to return home for the first time after practice Wednesday.
“Weird year, man,” said Lions center Frank Ragnow. “(He was) doing blitz pickups and protection calls via Zoom. Very unique, and it’s good to have him back. It’s good to have (No.) 9 back there. I think everyone on the offense is way more confident with him behind us.”
Detroit Lions’ Matthew Stafford on what’s holding them back this season
Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford speaks to the media on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020.
Stafford was a full participant in practice Wednesday, though he did appear on the daily practice report with a neck injury, and barring any more dalliances with COVID-19 should be on the field when the Lions (3-5) try and snap a two-game losing streak Sunday against Washington (2-6).
The Lions had one of the NFL’s most explosive offenses when Stafford was healthy last season, but have found tougher sledding this fall as teams have taken away their deep passing game.
Stafford has regressed across the board statistically from 2019, when he threw for 2,499 yards and 19 touchdowns with five interceptions in eight games. At the halfway point this season, he has 2,127 yards passing, 14 touchdowns, seven picks, a lower completion percentage and fewer yards per attempt.
While Stafford downplayed his drop in numbers, which he attributed to “trying to take what the defense is giving me,” he acknowledged he needs to be much better protecting the football.
“The last two (games) the turnover margin has been a big thing in the game,” he said. “I’ve had a couple the last two weeks and those have really hurt us, so you take those away and we’re really moving the ball decently. We just got to make sure we hold onto it a little bit better.”
Of Stafford’s interceptions, three — including both last week against the Vikings — have come in the red zone, and two others were returned for touchdowns by the defense. He also lost a fumble in field goal range in a Nov. 1 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
That’s 26 points, minimum, his turnovers have cost a Lions team that has little room for error because of its leaky defense and lack of a running game.
“Really the ones that we’ve had have been in-scoring range, quite a few of them,” Stafford said. “So those not only just give the ball to the defense but also take points off the board for us as an offense, so got to make sure that I do a better job of trying to make sure we’re ending up with the ball at the end of every play.”
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Washington has struggled to create turnovers this season, with nine takeways — eight of them interceptions — in eight games. But Washington does have one of the most ferocious defensive lines in the NFL, led by five former first-round picks.
“It’s as good up front as we’ve faced in the NFL, in my opinion,” Stafford said. “It’ll be a big challenge for us.”
But unlike last week, one that Stafford and the Lions can take comfort in their routine getting ready for.
“Obviously, I was able to come out and practice full today, which was awesome,” Stafford said. “And obviously, didn’t have a chance to do that last week, so it was great being out here, caught another great day of weather and had a nice practice out there, all that. So getting back to the routine is always a positive for me and really for anybody that does this job.”